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Suicide prevention funding end could have:- 'life or death consequences'

THE end of funding for suicide prevention projects in April could have:- "life or death consequences" in some areas, the Local Government Association says today.

The LGA, which represents Councils across England and Wales is urging the Government to use the Spring Budget to extend funding for suicide prevention projects.

The fund, which has been worth £57 million, has helped to provide vital support for those at risk of suicide, bereaved families and run awareness campaigns in their local communities.

However, there has been no confirmation from the Department for Health and Social Care if it will continue beyond the end of this financial year.

In a series of case studies published today, the LGA has highlighted the vital work Councils have carried out using funding from the suicide prevention campaign. They include:-

  • In Essex, where Councils in the area have worked with the NHS to tackle the impact of high waiting times for treatment for depression. After someone has initially been diagnosed with depression, they have to wait between 10 and 56 days for a follow-up appointment. The funding has helped set up regular Wellbeing Calls to support people before they start full treatment and when they may be more at risk of suicidal thoughts.

  • In Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin, where the Councils introduced a bereavement service for those loved ones who had been affected by suicide. This included providing counselling as well as attending Coroners Court hearings. So far the service has helped over 350 local people.

  • In Bournemouth, where the Council has worked with train operators and the British Transport Police in light of a cluster of suicides linked to the railways. This has included working with journalists and editors to make the reporting of suicide more sensitive.

The LGA said Councils are growing concerned about having to stop projects entirely or scale them down significantly.

With long term funding for suicide prevention schemes, Councils can continue to deliver vital mental health support in their local communities.

Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the LGA's Community Wellbeing Board said:- "This suicide prevention funding has been a lifeline for many people. Councils have used it to provide fantastic support to those in their communities who have needed help the most. Without a commitment by the Government to extend this funding, these vital local schemes face an uncertain future which could have life or death consequences for those who rely on them. Councils desperately want to be able to keep tackling this issue, update their local suicide prevention plans in line with the new national suicide prevention strategy, and improve the wellbeing of their areas."

Julie Bentley, CEO of Samaritans, added:- "People in serious distress cannot afford for local suicide prevention funding to dwindle away. Communities across the country rely on this money to help save lives and Samaritans stands shoulder to shoulder with the LGA in calling on the Government to urgently renew the funding in the Spring Budget."

Nearly 3 in 10 North West employers have seen an increase in staff working from home over past year

A new survey from Acas has found that almost three in ten (29%) employers in the North West have seen an increase in staff working from home in the last 12 months.

12% of bosses have also reported a reduction in physical workspace as the reason behind implementing home working over the year.

Home working is a type of flexible working. All employees who have worked for their employer for 26 weeks or more currently have the right to ask if they can work flexibly. New changes to the law in April will make this right apply from the 1st day of employment.

Acas has published a new draft Code of Practice on requests for flexible working to provide guidance and help everyone understand the changes.

Acas Head of Inclusive Workplaces Julie Dennis said:- "It is clear from our findings that interest for some new homeworking arrangements among staff and businesses in the North West has continued after the pandemic. Flexible working such as home or hybrid working can allow employers to reduce costs and attract talent. It can also help employees better balance their working lives. I would urge bosses in the North West to have a read of our new draft Code, which encourages a positive approach to flexible working and covers the new law changes."

Acas advice is that a business's flexible working policy should explain how someone can request a different way of working, how requests will be assessed and how decisions will be made. These decisions should be fair and transparent.

Home or hybrid working are some examples of the wide array of flexible working arrangements that can work for many businesses and working people. Other types of flexible working can include:- working part time, job sharing, working hours over fewer days or compressed hours or changing start and finish times.

Acas's draft statutory Code of Practice on requests for flexible working includes information on:-

  • Who should be allowed to accompany an employee at meetings to discuss a flexible working request.

  • The need for transparency about reasons for rejecting a request.

  • Making it clear that employers should proactively offer an appeal where a request has been rejected.

  • The draft Code can be seen at:- ACAS.Org.UK,

The updated Code was drafted following a public consultation by Acas in 2023 and is currently awaiting parliamentary approval.

Acas is running a special digital conference on the 16 April 2024 that will see leading UK workplace experts explore the law and Acas's Code of Practice on requests for flexible working.

Letter to Editor:- "The Crisis of NHS Ear Wax Removal Services in England"

"I am writing to support RNID's ear wax campaign and share my personal experience of struggling to get ear wax removal. It is estimated that around 2.3 million people a year in the UK require their ear wax to be removed by a professional. Ear wax build up can cause painful and distressing symptoms; such as hearing loss, tinnitus and debilitating earache; yet RNID's new report highlights the horrifying reality that far too many people are unable to access this essential service on the NHS. RNID's report shows that only 18 out of 40 Integrated Care Boards, the commissioners of most NHS services, are meeting public health guidelines by providing ear wax removal services for everyone in their area. 15 provide a limited service, or use restrictive criteria, and 7 don't provide any service at all. This means thousands of people like me face avoidable hearing loss, tinnitus and earache because they can't get ear wax removed on the NHS. It is unacceptable that people are facing long delays and costly private appointments because local Integrated Care Boards are not delivering. You can find out more about RNID's ear wax campaign by visiting:- RNID.Org.UK RNID need your support. As someone who experiences ear wax build up, I am joining RNID in calling on the Department of Health and Social Care for an urgent review of ear wax removal services for people who are failing to get the care they need on the NHS. The problem is certainly clear; people who need ear wax removal must be able to access this service on the NHS, regardless of where they live." Beth Cropper, Liverpool.

Fire It Up Fund launched for young creatives in honour of Liverpool based photographer

THE Ant Clausen Fire it up Fund; a new £20,000 award to help young people get into the creative industries; has opened for applicants working in film and photography.

Initially announced last Summer, The Fund is in memory of Liverpool based photographer and film maker Ant Clausen, who tragically died in 2023 while on holiday in his native New Zealand.

The Fund is open to anyone aged:- 16 to 25, who lives, works, or studies in the Liverpool City Region, and is looking for help to kick start a career in the creative industries.

The focus of The Fund is to help young photographers and film makers turn their:- 'passion into a pay check,' and has been designed to be simple and quick to apply for.

Uniquely, as well as offering financial support, the fund will work with award winners to create a bespoke 12 month plan to help with their progress, which could include:- mentoring, training, and making available opportunities and events which can be hard for someone starting out to get access to.

The main partner in the fund is the Open Eye Gallery, alongside official supporters ACC Liverpool Group and Bold Street Coffee.

Applications are now open until 26 March 2024. All details can be found here.

Matt Farrell, CSG Hospitality:- "Everyone involved in setting up this fund has been inspired by the way that Ant led his life and built his career. Our ambition is not to just provide financial support to people, but to create a relationship between our partners and the award winners that is fun, straightforward, and full of energy. I think that the chance to help young people get their foot into the creative industries should be because of their talent, not because of who they know, or where they studied."

Sarah Fisher, Director at Open Eye Gallery:- "As a business we had a long relationship with Ant and so many of the iconic photos of the last decade in Liverpool were shot by him. We are very proud to be an official supporter of the ACFIUF and are excited to provide opportunities to those who are successful in winning the awards in furthering their careers in whatever way we can."

Faye Dyer, CEO of ACC Liverpool:- "As soon as we heard about the fund we wanted to be involved. Ant was a crucial part of the creativity and culture of this City, and the chance to help young aspiring photographers and film makers is something we wanted to be a part of. When we have been talking to guests about the fund, the reaction has been incredible so I am really hopeful that a lot of people take the time to apply."

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